The High Strung - Get the Guests (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The High Strung

Get the Guests (2007)

Park the Van

Cruisin' some blogs, I saw a post about this band who was mad about not getting Pitchfork to review their album. They had a MySpace tirade about how dumb and stupid and stuck-up the 'fork are. Well shit dudes, we've all known this for years. That's why we don't read the 'fork no more. So I volunteered to review the album. And then they sent it to me. Boy, was that a dumb move on their part!

Out the door, we get "What a Meddler!" and a whole lot of Ted Leo worship. Poppy, upbeat acoustic guitars mixing with electrics and a warbling high voice with rhythmic bass lines and loose drums. Throw in some mariachi trumpets, and I might have just gotten a pretty good free CD. And then the car drove off the cliff. [Or maybe it was a van, and it went into "Drive" over said cliff, lolz. - Ed.]

Badly chosen melody lines for the range of the vocalist means a whole lot of warbling that is not necessarily on pitch. Repetitive choruses mean I got tired of each song really fast. And then I know why Pitchfork didn't review the album. A mugful of bland throwback vintage power-pop doesn't lend you a lot to write about. I could mention that "He's Got No Soul" starts out with some sweet bass parts and "The Baddest Ship" has some almost promising piano lines. But too much tambourine and squawky Thom Yorke-inspired yowling kills the mood pretty quickly.

I want to say that songs like "Arrow" and "There Was No One Before You, There Was No One Before Me" do the band better justice, but the almost-country stylings of the former and the regurgitation of the Shins on the latter just sort of blah me out. "Gravedigger" proves that the band can be just as mediocre when playing keyed-down acoustic tracks. And nothing really grabs you and tells you that this album would be worth listening to again. Imagine the Weakerthans without their endearing sense of emotion. Or the Rolling Stones without their rowdiness. So I guess, just remember what the Rolling Stones sounded like in the `80s.